words and images Rosie Lee
Travel is one of the biggest causes of stress in our daily lives in the UK. There is an almost universal understanding of this across all demographics. The frustration spans Tube travel, train travel and airports, as well as other forms of transport.
Can technology offer the solution? It can, but it falls short at the moment. Well-designed websites navigate across hundreds of thousands of pieces of data and seamlessly deliver dynamic content to users in less than a second, yet in contrast, we stand at ticket machines trying to figure out what button to press next and what “Super Off-Peak” means.
Many user interface design principles employed on websites hold for ticket vending machines, but don’t seem to be followed.
We have come up with some ideas that could make ticket vending machines and their user interfaces a whole lot simpler, quicker and more informative. We’ve reduced the number of steps and different pages as much as possible to give the user a clear, logical progression from one decision to the next.
This is the first step – immediately we ask people to tell us their circumstances so that the user interface can be presented in the most appropriate way – already, the machine is channelling the most appropriate ticket options. An optional swipecard also allows users to save their favourite journeys.
We use landmarks, station names and postcodes to make journey decisions easy for visitors and tourists. These can be easily incorporated into the same search box to reduce clicks.
Route planner and prices
By physically showing a simple route map and appropriate train times we combine two steps into one. The customer is given a quick visualisation of the route they are planning to take, helping them become familiar with the journey ahead.
Assuming printed tickets are not phased out soon, this screen is the one customers spend most time looking at without any interaction at the moment. We use this as an opportunity to present information, offers and rewards based on the customer’s ticket selection.